The earliest I can remember is living at East Chaldon, I could not have been any more than three years old We lived in a farmhouse by the village green and dad used to work for a Mr Cobb just up the road. In them days in the early fifties I used to play outside on the road running around the village green, a triangle of grass that is still there today, running indoors to Mum when I fell over on the freshly laid chipping's which must have been about 2 inches deep. I can remember well how Mum lifted the displaced skin back up into place and put a bit of butter on it and said 'there there' that’s that mended! I still have the scar today!
Across the road lived a Walt and Betty Miller and outside was an old village pump, they used to keep honey bees and I can remember keeping away from them, and I still do today! I visited Chaldon on 17th November 2013 and I think the cottage is gone! I am quite sure it was behind the pump and it does look like a sign of an opening in the hedge where the entrance used to be. It must have been about 25 years ago when I took Mum out to visit her friends Betty and Walter Miller. I just wish I could lay my hands on the video I took that day. I have now managed to hunt through old footage and have found this short piece of film
Running up to the dairy where Dad worked with a milk can just before tea time to collect the second can of milk that day, Dad brought the first one home when he finished milking in the early morning before I was even awake. My elder sister Mary went on the school bus to Winfrith, I don't remember anything else about that but I think it was Webb's that ran the bus company. The days I used to run around the corner, there lived a lovely lady who used to give me an apple to eat most days. The bridge over the little ford when I visited there a few years ago seemed to have had shrunk like most things have you remember from your childhood. I remember very well the time I ran out into the road in front of a Land Rover driven by Mr Cobb, he stopped and went indoors to see Mum, I ran up into the garden and hid behind a row of beans and waited until he had gone. When mum died I wanted to visit Chaldon again (like you do) I went in the pub that Dad used to go in now and again and I just stood there, and couldn't help but listen to a couple of locals talking and mentioning a Mrs Cobb, I didn't ask any questions, I just listened and heard names that flashed back to me after all them years. A walk around the churchyard revealed lots more memories, names on headstones that I could remember Mum bringing up in conversation over forty years earlier. Lots of memories in Dorset.
We moved to Witchampton, I must have been about 4 years old then and don't remember too much other than we lived just around a corner with someone living above us. The road was always covered in cow muck. We lived at the bottom of a hill and I can still see Dad at the top in the mornings wheeling out milk churns full of water to tip it over the road so it ran down the mucky hill cleaning as it went and all collecting at the bottom in a gateway. I have been back there a few times to try and find where we lived but with no luck. I do remember the farmer was a grumpy miserable sort of chap and we didn't stay there long.
We moved to Winterborne Clenston in 1955, I remember this only because it was the time I started school. We lived in the 1901 cottages (Wards Cottages) and Dad worked at Canada Farm, the farmer was a Mr Ward. The school was at Winterborne Stickland, and my teacher then was a Mrs Webster, there used to be a big red hot boiler thing in the classroom which she used to have to keep clearing the ashes away. In those days we all had a 1/3 pint of milk and I can remember I could never open mine so Mrs Webster had to do it for me.
Just down the road from us there was a house called Homelea, in that house lived the Webb family, I quickly made friends with Peter and Sid, we used to meet up outside the 1901 cottages to walk up to school together at Stickland. I can still remember Sid’s lunch box was an oxo tin that you don’t see these days.
I never used to like milk in them days, it wasn't the same as what Dad used to bring home from work. The school meals were cooked in the canteen by a Mrs Stone and Mrs Cuff and it was really nice, I always used to get seconds, maybe I looked starved! I remember being ill one day and was taken home, all I could think about was that I had left my penguin in my desk and was worried in case it was gone when I went back a few days later, I do remember it was still there. Probably wouldn't be today! The days of using an ink pen (a nib on a stick!) and the ink well in the top of the desk I remember well and the days of learning hand writing between 4 faint lines on a piece of paper, there was two red lines top and bottom with two narrow blue ones in the middle, never did become top of the class at that
We used to collect a few spuds' and maybe an odd cabbage from the garden, a friend and I, and light a fire in the old brick outhouse at the back of the house and do a spot of cooking. The bricks were very soft and we used to cut a small piece of dried dead elder, rub the end on the bricks to make them red and pretend we were smoking. We used to pick some broad beans and hide in a 'rolly - polly' as we called it, a very large 50 gallon type barrel only I'm sure it was bigger! Here we used to eat the beans, I do remember once or twice getting caught by Mum. We never had a car in those days but I don't remember ever getting bored like kids these days say they do, even with all the gadgets they have they still seem to want more, and when they get more it still isn't enough. Those days you could go across the fields without a care in the world picking what you liked, flowers, mushrooms, pick up a few little sticks for fire lighting, and not a word said, it was normal those days, we all did it.
I remember all the cows in those days had horns and looked a bit scary, they were all friesian’s. I remember getting chased by one once, I must have been no more than nine or ten years old, I've never trusted them since! There was a track that went from the house up to some old barns, one of which contained even then, some really old carts that the horses used to pull and I remember an old car of sorts with a seat in the boot area, old elevators and goodness knows what all overgrown with stinging nettles. Just a hundred yards from the house there was a long hedgerow, all hazel bushes that we used to collect the nuts from every year, the hedgerow is not there any more since the farm was taken over and the modern way of farming took over with the removing of hedges to make larger fields.
We walked up across the fields to Milton Abbas woods and picked miniature Daffodils to bring home to Mum on Easter Sunday, Cowslips was always my favourite flower and so is today. It was always on a Sunday when Dad got paid I used to walk a hundred yards towards Winterborne Stickland to collect freshly laid eggs from a farmer Tommy Upshall. The most wonderful generous man I have ever met.
Those eggs I can still clearly see with chicken muck and bits of straw stuck all over them. You don't find them like that any more I bet! If so tell me where. Those chickens had the run of the whole farmyard and the orchard. He also if I remember rightly sold ducks eggs too. I used to borrow his tractor for one reason or another, he used to say 'If you drop Granny Robbins in a couple bags of logs you can' so that's what I used to do, or another deal was 'if you take the milk churns out to the milk stand you can'. How can you not like or forget people like that? I cant. Milk churns in those days were heavy even when empty, that was before they were made from aluminium.
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Our trip to East Chaldon
Our trip to East Chaldon (above) about 35 years ago with Betty and Walter Miller. Sadly this was the last time that I seen them. They are laid to rest in the village churchyard.